Saina Nehwal dispelled all fears over her post-Olympics form, with her best-ever performance at the Denmark Open. Saina beat Baun 21-10 21-11 to enter her first semifinal at the Denmark Open. She will take on world No. 1 Wang Yihan on Saturday.
Taking on home favourite Tine Baun, Saina executed her gameplan to perfection, constantly altering the line of attack to keep Baun scurrying behind the shuttle. The Indian forced the tall Dane to bend forward in picking up her close net shots, and then flicked the shuttle to the back corners, forcing the Dane to run the diagonals. It was a simple tactic, yet executed perfectly. The ageing legs of Tine Baun could not match the pace or power of the 22-year-old Indian.
Saina’s defence too stood out, as she returned the big smashes of the powerful Dane.
“I played a lot of rallies, and that disturbed her,” said Saina. “I made it tough for her by getting her to bend, and she wasn’t moving well. It was a bad day for her.”
Talking of her own form, Saina said: “I was a bit tense before the match, and the crowd was cheering for her. But then I started playing free and confidently. Tine’s a fantastic player, and she has won the big titles. It’s very difficult to beat the Chinese, and she has done that. She’s a fantastic player, and we’ll miss her after her retirement.”
Saina’s last three matches have been won in straight games, and she appears calm even during critical moments. She will next take on world No. 1 Wang Yihan, whom she has never beaten in six matches. The closest she came to beating her was at the Indonesian Open in 2011, when she had two match points. Their last encounter, at the Olympic semifinals, ended in an easy win for the lanky Chinese girl.
The match on Saturday should be an interesting encounter.